Friday, September 12, 2014

Feeling Overwhelmed

First and foremost, today is my son's birthday, so I'd like to wish him a very happy birthday and extra-special day.

As the title of this post suggests, I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed, but also very relieved. I've been unemployed since July 1st and was trying to cope with my sense of worthlessness and lack of income. The job search was tedious and stressful, especially since I'd been comfortable with my previous job for four years. You might say I'd grown complacent. You'd be right. Suddenly finding yourself without gainful employment in an employer's market is not a fun place to be. I work as a computer programmer, have been doing this for nearly twenty years. I'm no stranger to formal and technical interviews, but this time around it seemed that every employer wanted to quiz me like I had just entered the market from school. The tests and questions ranged from defining certain programming terms (many of which come from first-year textbooks) all the way to writing small programs to accomplish some mundane task. I get it! You wanna make sure an applicant actually has the abilities their resume claims. But, seriously, EVERY interview?

Needless to say, I didn't concentrate much on my writing or editing while I was looking for work. However, I'm pleased to announce that I landed a job with a company that seems like a good fit, with great benefits, solid colleagues, and the commute and money are right. That's where a lot of my relief has come from.

The rest of the burdens weighing on me stem from my current novel as well as various stories I've begun or have recently been thinking about. First, I'll tell you about the current WIP, What Goes Around. This is the story of nine children who vanish from a carousel in 1958, while their parents are watching. Sixty years later, when some teenagers turn on the carousel, the nine children reappear on the ride. I think it's an interesting concept and has started to take shape, becoming something I'm eager to finish molding and polishing. I recently handed it to my wife, my first beta reader. Her reaction wasn't quite what I expected. She didn't think the scary parts were very scary, nor the ending as satisfying as I had hoped. However, she saw the potential in it. She provided her feedback, and, while it doesn't necessarily require a rewrite, it's close. She gave some fantastic suggestions that will make it a much stronger story.

I've just finished the first pass through the manuscript to correct the grammatical changes and typos she identified as she read it. Now, I've got to go through it a few more times to change large swathes by altering some of the characters' roles and motivations. Before handing it off to her, I had gone through it four times. That's a heck of a lot when you're editing a manuscript nearly three hundred pages long. I hate editing. It's tedious and with each pass, I become less enthused about the story because it all starts tasting like beans. At this stage, I can foresee several more iterations through the story just to get it up to her standards. This is causing me to procrastinate and think about newer, shinier stories I could be working on.

As I've said in the past, I am always working on new stories. I usually have a couple going at the same time, hopping between them whenever I need a change of scenery. I'm wrestling with these compulsions now. I desperately need to finish the sequel to my crime novel, Majoring in Murder. I have two other horror novels that I need to work on: Into the Black Mirror and A Consuming Darkness. These are only a few of the stories scattered throughout the production pipe. My notes contain a wealth of material for me to mine. In addition, I've recently been thinking about two characters I invented years ago and still have not used them in a story. That's because I think these two characters could carry a story by themselves, much like George and Lenny from Of Mice and Men. The more I think about them, the more details from their story emerge. I don't want to rush it, because doing that will only hurt the work.

In addition to all of the above, I recently wrapped up a free 5 book giveaway on Goodreads. Overall, I think it went well. The giveaway had a higher interest than I anticipated. Now, I just have to wait and see if any of the readers will leave a review. I'd also like to see if any sales result from it. Basically, I'm anxious to see if the giveaway results in any benefits. I enjoyed the process. If for nothing else, it made more people aware of my work and maybe they will become potential fans. I already want to hold another giveaway with even more books, but I have to exercise patience. And for me, patience is a hard row to hoe. I'm always eager to jump right in.

So, as you can see from what I've laid out, I'm feeling the pressure of the stories I'm buried under. The good thing is that I'm not under any deadlines, except for the ones I set for myself. I tend to publish at least one new novel a year, more if I can do it without churning out crap. I think this is a respectable pace. Some very good traditionally-published authors work at the same pace. I just have to keep reminding myself that writing is a marathon, not a race.

Thanks for stopping by.

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